“One should not grieve too much for the dead, and whoever grieves excessively is really grieving for someone else.” – Shulhan Arukh
This year, June 17, 2012—I am as I have been since this date on 2004 – eight days of remembering. This year Ed and I, as we were nine years ago, are together on a tropical island paradise where the world seems so very far away. Today, after ten days on the island, we have decided to leave the beach and drive way up high — up to Haleaka. Neither of us have mentioned to each other what this day is. We don’t need to say it. The spirit of Bo fills our sphere. As we are driving and talking and listening to music, I am aware that we are much like we were so many years ago, relaxed and isolated from the world. We are, again, succumbing to the mystery of the island as we climb higher up through the clouds.
We stop as we have many times before, taking photos to document our journey – just as Bo asked us to nine years ago. As we get closer to the top of the mountain, the air gets thin and windy and icy cold. We laugh and shiver as we take pictures of each other standing out there – looking for a signal so that we can send them out to our friends who might witness our pleasure at being ten thousand feet above the sea together on this day.
At the top of Haleakala (House of the Sun) the 10,023 foot summit of Maui’s National Volcano Park, the temperature is sixty degrees and is made even more chilling by the constant forty mile an hour wind. My teeth are chattering. I peer over the edge of a tenuous railing into the crater of a volcano that is dying, where erosion is winning and the caldera is as large as the entire island of Manhattan. It is stunning; desolate as the moon must be. Faint ash devils swirl up here and there spinning through the vastness of that hole before disappearing into thin air. I am overtaken for a moment – dizzy enough to let go of the rail I am hanging on to and let myself be blown over the edge. I fix my eyes on the green below and resolve to come down to earth.
At a stop on the way down, we witness the joy of a family; Father, Mother, Sister, Brother are performing a complicated act on a bicycle. They are trying to pose before they take the thirty-two mile ride down the mountain. Father is sitting on the seat; Mother is balanced on the handle bars; Brother and Sister are flanking them on the front and back wheels – kneeling on the fenders and kicking their legs out in perfect symmetry. They try two or three times as the tour guide snaps a picture for their photo album. They are looking for that perfect balance held for only a moment, captured forever.
Back at sea level at the fish house in Paia, we dine on rock lobster in the midst of families who are celebrating Father’s day. At the table behind us, a young girl stands and presents her father with a poem she has written for him. She is holding a book made of construction paper. She stands and reads out loud an ode to him while he leans back beaming in the presence of her blessing. “But mostly, I love you because you are my dad.” I smile because it is charming, but mostly because it is a joy to live.
Yizkor E-lohim nishmat
Ba-avur sheb’li neder
Etayn tz’dakah ba-ado.
T’hay nafsho tz’rurah
Avraham, Yitzchak, v’Ya-akov;
Sarah, Rivkah Rachel v’Lay-ah,
V’im sh’or tzadikim v’tzidkaniyot
(May G-d remember the soul of my son Bo who has gone to his eternal rest as, without making a formal vow, I pledge to give charity on his behalf. In the merit of this may his soul be bound in the bond of everlasting life together with the souls of Abraham Isaac Jacob Sarah Rebecca Rachel and Leah and with the other righteous men and women in the Garden of Eden. And let us say Amen.)